3 Ways in which Sugar Sabotages Your Sleep

Jan 26, 2020

Did you know that there is a very strong link between sugar and sleep? 

Sugar may make us feel good initially, but evidence suggests that our sleep quality suffers when we eat more sugar. What I see with my health coaching and hypnotherapy clients is that they sleep much better when they start changing their lifestyle towards consuming less sugar. 

 But first off, what’s the evidence that sugar disturbs your sleep? 

A 2016 study found that, when you eat more sugar, you’re more likely to have restless, disrupted sleep. 

 The study divided the volunteers into two groups. The first group was put on a low-sugar, high-fibre diet, the second group was allowed to eat whatever they wanted. The second group ended up eating significantly more sugar and fat than the first group. The researcher found that the second group took longer to fall asleep, experienced more restless sleep and woke up more often during the night. They also spent less time in so-called slow-wave sleep,  which is essential for the body’s physical restoration and healing, as well as for maintaining healthy metabolism and immune function.

 So how exactly does sugar sabotage your sleep? There’s 3 main path ways: 

 #1 Sugar increases stress hormones 

 Eating sugar sends you on the blood sugar roller-coaster. Straight after you’ve eaten sugar, you feel great and full of energy…. Only to crash a couple of hours later. 

 When your blood sugar crashes, your body uses the stress hormone cortisol to balance your blood sugar...

 So when you wake up in the middle of the night and you can't go back to sleep, this could be because your blood sugar has crashed and your body is pumping out cortisol... and it's pretty hard to sleep when your stress hormones are sky high. 

#2 Sugar makes you crave late-night snacking 

When you eat sugar, your brain releases dopamine, the pleasure hormone. The more sugar we eat, the less sensitive our brain becomes to that dopamine rush… we therefore need to eat more sugar in order to get the same feeling of pleasure and satisfaction. (Sounds a lot like addiction, doesn’t it?)  

So the resulting cravings you get can lead to late-night snacking, which in turn disrupts your sleep. 

Plus, to make matters worse, the poor sleep you end up with makes your cravings worse. Studies have shown that poor quality and quantity of sleep interfere with the normal function of appetite-regulating hormones like leptin and ghrelin. (Yes, that’s why you crave carbs when you haven’t slept well).

#3 Sugar increases inflammation

A systematic review from 2018 reported that several studies have linked consuming more sugar with chronic inflammation. And inflammation, in turn, can also undermine healthy sleep. 

Inflammation comes with so-called cytokines, chemical messengers that regulate sleep. When cytokines are elevated, there is a higher likelihood of sleep issues and insomnia. 

 What’s more, inflammation can cause pain and stiffness in the body that can make it hard to fall asleep and to sleep soundly. 

 Inflammation is also accompanied by the stress hormone cortisol. Can you see we’re going full-circle here?

 The solution? Eat less sugar- easier said than done

You didn’t need yet another article to tell you to eat less of your favourite sugary foods, did you? 

Knowing how damaging sugar is to our health is one thing, but actually applying that knowledge in our life is something that most of us really struggle with. 

Let’s be honest- most of us know what to do, we just don’t do it for some reason. 

What if there were a way to start eating less sugar without feeling deprived? 

Changing a habit is more than just changing the way you act, it’s also about changing the way you think. Every habit of action is preceded by a habit of thought. 

The easy way: Change how your brain is wired

Therefore, it’s important to change the way that your brain is wired, or, in other words, your mindset. 

The problem with eliminating a habit, in this case eating sugar, from your life, is that you’re having to tell yourself “oh, wait, I like sugar, but I can’t have it.” 

Ever found that when you were told “you can’t have it”, you wanted it more? 

So the trick here is to tell yourself that you can have all the sugar you want… no really! My clients usually look at me with a blank face when I tell them that…. It seems so counter- intuitive at first! 

Yes, you can eat as much sugar as you want! But, based on what you know about sugar, you’ll most likely choose not to eat it…. 

The trick here is to choose to feel empowered and thrilled to say “no” to sugar, and to focus on what you get instead of the sugar instead, eg amazing energy, a wonderful night’s sleep, more radiance,...

Let me give you an example to illustrate. 

My client Veronica travels a lot for work, and stay in very lush 5 star hotels with amazing breakfast buffets. She’s usually very hungry at breakfast because she flies in late at night and either skips dinner, or only eats lightly at night. 

As a result, she used to gorge on the croissants and other sweets at breakfast. But nowadays, she simply walks past all the sugary pastries and croissants and says to herself “I can always eat all these things when I’m 90…. But today I’m choosing to say “no” to them and to have a lovely omelette with lots of colourful vegetables instead!”

Veronica’s mid-morning energy-slump is now a thing of the past, and her colleagues and clients have commented how radiant and energetic she is. 

So you can see, when done properly, changing your habits and your mindset can be easy and fun.

And if you don’t want to do it alone, let’s find out how I can best support you. Book your complimentary 45-minute Breakthrough session with me today by clicking on the link below. 



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